Rosemary for remembrance, pansies for thoughts
This weekend is a time of solemn remembering, and in the realm of reminiscence, two plants come to mind: rosemary and pansies. “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts,” says Ophelia to her brother Laertes in Hamlet.
In plant lore, smelling or eating rosemary is said to improve the memory. I just like it, and because I use rosemary so much in cooking, I grow an easy-care hedge of the plants in one of the sunniest, hottest parts of the garden. The plants bloom over a long period, attracting large numbers of bees.
I love rosemary’s pungent, resinous scent, which brings memories of the hot, dry, herbscented Mediterranean hills.
Throughout November, I keep springs of rosemary and a small vase of pansies on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. In French, pansy is pensée. The same word is used for “thought.”
The pansies (and violas, or mini-pansies) on the windowsill are cut from the bowl-shaped, elevated planters on the patio, in full view from the family room. They bloom there during the fall, during mild winter weather, and fully in spring. I know of very few plantings that give such a long, care-free bloom time for such little effort.
Remembering family. A late October email from Betty Sherwood is full of family remembrance. “Thank you for the remarks about bougainvillea in a recent column. I was glad to know that it flowers on new growth. My plant has history.
“On July 25, 1970, my mother rooted a bougainvillea cutting. After she died in 1972, my father looked after it and when he died, my cousin nurtured the plant until I took over its care. Now, 48 years from the plant’s beginning, it continues to do very well. I put it outdoors in the summer. Now it is back in my bedroom. I prune it back whenever it gets leggy, to make it easier to move.
“The plant is more than beautiful. It feels like a gift from Mum.”
A grave matter. In line with the solemn nature of this weekend is an email form Dale, who wishes to share a decision he has made, one he feels may appeal to gardeners: “My choice, when I die, is to have a green burial. I ask that my body be buried in a simple bag.”
This makes good sense for gardeners like me. I’ve been avidly composting for most of my life. Here’s a way to carry on composting into the beyond.
The “green” burial concept sounds new, but during a brief teenage sojourn in a Trappistine monastery in New Brunswick, I remember nuns who died being simply wrapped in their cloaks for burial.
Two green burial sites exist on Vancouver Island, at Royal Oak Burial Park and Yates Memorial Services in Parksville.
Dale already has a “small Garry oak volunteer” for his burial site, but the tree may have to be placed elsewhere. Trees generally grow around the outside of a green burial “park” or “garden” space, where small native plants such as ferns or wildflowers can be planted over burial sites once they have settled.
The issue, as Dale suggests, is one that “other gardeners might find they’d like to consider.” Timely tips: • Send for a few seed catalogues to fuel winter dreams of a splendid garden in 2019. Ask avid gardening friends and neighbours for recommendations on their favourites. Ask vendors at farmers’ markets about seed sources. • Make a rough sketch of this year’s vegetable garden. Then make a fresh one for pencilling in the sites of next year’s plantings. Make sure to change the location from year to year of each major type, such as roots, cabbage family and tomatoes.
Peninsula meeting. The Peninsula Garden Club will meet on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. The evening will feature the club’s AGM as well as Paul de Greeff, a registered landscape architect, presenting “Digging into Rain Gardens.” His talk will cover the purpose, design and installation of a water garden. There will be a parlour show, plant stall and library access. Non-member drop-in fee $5.
Qualicum meeting. The Qualicum Beach Garden Club will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Q.B. Civic Centre on Jones Street. The meeting will feature a series of winter and Christmas projects for gardeners, including creating wreaths, planters and more. Drop-in fee $3.
This cutting-grown bougainvillea has been nurtured in a family for 48 years.
Blue Frost pansy in the Matrix series.